Since people began tweeting in 2006, Twitter has grown into an
institution. It has become a rapid and efficient means for
disseminating information; a genuine journalistic tool and
reference source; and a place for the thoughts, feelings,
advertisements, and self-promotions of every person, company, and
organization with an Internet connection and a penchant for
sharing. Though the number is not certain, it is likely that over
300 billion tweets have been published since 2006, and a social
search engine called Topsy today announced that its archives,
available to any Internet user to search for free, include every
single one of those 300 billion tweets.
After adding videos, images, pins (from Pinterest), and other
social data elements to its database of tweets, Topsy claims to
have over 475 billion pieces of social content searchable on
. Moreover, Topsy has its own proprietary means for sorting tweets.
Explaining this to the
New York Times
, Vipul Ved Prakash, the founder of Topsy, said, "How do you make
sense of 400 billion pieces of content? One, by ranking it. We do
the ranking by looking at how much a particular piece of content is
being cited by other people."
), Topsy uses measures of influence and relevance to rank social
content for its search engine.
Speaking of Google, the tech giant once had a deal with Twitter
that allowed it to index all tweets. However, when that deal
expired in 2011, it was not renewed and Google quickly became
irrelevant when searching for up-to-date tweets. Topsy lets users
search for content published within the past hour, since Twitter
was launched, or within a specified date range.
Topsy is being covered quite broadly in the media today since the
company announced its complete treasure trove of Twitter data, but
it has been around since 2007. In fact, the social search company
is one of the only surviving real-time search sites from the group
that emerged between 2007 and 2010 -- a group that included
startups such as Collecta, CrowdEye, OneRiot, Scoopler, and
TweetMeme. Google and the other major search giants, namely
), made survival very difficult for the real-time search engines.
Now Topsy excels in this space, although it does have competitors,
, neither of which offer free search; instead these two companies
offer a paid product.
Topsy offers a paid product as well, and that's how it makes its
money. For $12,000, clients like marketers, media companies, hedge
funds, and political campaigns can have an annual subscription to
Topsy's premium service, which allows them to narrow down search
results by geography and other variables. Perhaps most importantly,
the premium service can readily identify the tweets with most
social influence on Twitter to help companies improve their social
Who then is perhaps Topsy's most important client? Twitter itself.
In 2012, the
which tracked voter sentiment during the presidential election,
used Topsy's search database. Earlier this year, the
also employed Topsy. As Prakash said to the
, "What we are doing is creating new products from the data. It
becomes very complementary to the products that Twitter is
providing." Because of this, Topsy may be a great candidate for a
Twitter acquisition -- that is, unless the competition (like
), Microsoft, or Yahoo) beats it to the punch.
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